Mandevillian Intelligence

Synthese 195 (9):4169-4200 (2018)
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Abstract

Mandevillian intelligence is a specific form of collective intelligence in which individual cognitive vices are seen to play a positive functional role in yielding collective forms of cognitive success. The present paper introduces the concept of mandevillian intelligence and reviews a number of strands of empirical research that help to shed light on the phenomenon. The paper also attempts to highlight the value of the concept of mandevillian intelligence from a philosophical, scientific and engineering perspective. Inasmuch as we accept the notion of mandevillian intelligence, then it seems that the cognitive and epistemic value of a specific social or technological intervention will vary according to whether our attention is focused at the individual or collective level of analysis. This has a number of important implications for how we think about the design and evaluation of collective cognitive systems. For example, the notion of mandevillian intelligence forces us to take seriously the idea that the exploitation of individual cognitive shortcomings could, in some situations, provide a productive route to collective forms of cognitive and epistemic success.

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Paul Smart
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - Episteme 17 (2):141-161.
What Is the Function of Confirmation Bias?Uwe Peters - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (3):1351-1376.
Illegitimate Values, Confirmation Bias, and Mandevillian Cognition in Science.Uwe Peters - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (4):1061-1081.
Social epistemology.Alvin I. Goldman - 2001 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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